1. Modern Times

    Libraries, Publishers Clash Over eBooks

    A customer looks at a nook electronic reader at a Barnes & Noble book store in Hackensack, N.J., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. The nook will be available again in most stores by midweek after quickly selling out over the holidays, the company said Monday. Barnes & Noble is hoping its foray into the eBook market, where it competes with Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle and now Apple's iPad, will help draw customers back through its doors. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

    As e-books grow in popularity, libraries and publishers find themselves increasingly at odds over how best to loan digital copies to library patrons. In a new report from NPR, Lynn Neary details the conflict over pricing and distribution. Publishers, hesitant to provide vast numbers of possible customers with an easily duplicated and quasi-permanent version of their product, have been pricing eBooks to libraries at vastly inflated rates. In addition, many publishers have been effectively leasing their e-books by restricting the amount of time or number of uses allowed per digital copy. Many librarians, however, argue that price inflation and restrictions make loaning e-books untenable, despite growing demand from their patrons. In April, Simon & Schuster began an experimental program with three New York City libraries that would make their entire catalog available to check-out, with the option for the patron to buy the book at any point. Whether this satisfies both sides of the divide remains to be seen.

    Read it at NPR